I have long maintained that when it comes to cruises, I am strictly a “small ship” person. I like to be able to get around the ship easily, and get outside to get the best photos. I like really good food, personalized service, and all inclusive pricing. I don’t care much about ship based Broadway shows, shopping on board, lots of restaurants, casinos, coffee bars, waterslides, or marble bathrooms.
I do appreciate spas, hot tubs, and pool areas, but they aren’t a must for me. I like having the chance to meet new people, but that’s also not an absolute must. I mainly just want to get through the week without constantly running into people who are annoying, or annoying other people myself.
I resisted trying Regent Seven Seas Cruises for a long time, because I figured the ship would be too big for me. I also read some reviews of their older ships that made me think they would disappoint me. Even though Splendor is a very new ship (for me, it’s extremely new), I was still kind of skeptical that I’d love it.
And… well… to be honest, while I had a great time on Splendor, I didn’t fall in love with it. I wasn’t wowed by the experience the way I was when I got off my first SeaDream or Hebridean cruises. Some of that may be because now I’ve done a few luxury cruises. It no longer blows me away to be able to order a cocktail on a ship and not have to worry about what it costs or what the tip should be. I’m older, and maybe I’m a little jaded. It’s been awhile since we were last “broke”. 😉 (knock on wood)
Maybe I’d be a confirmed Regent “cheerleader” if our most recent cruise was my first luxury experience. But it wasn’t, and there were some things I didn’t like about Regent. I think the main thing I noticed was that it wasn’t a very personal experience. Almost none of the crew knew our names or preferences. While that’s not a big deal to someone like me, it also doesn’t fit my definition of what a luxury experience is. One of the quickest ways to impress me is to call me by my preferred name… and not my legal first name! Call me Jennifer, and you’ll definitely annoy me. No one who actually knows me, calls me that.
Another thing I noticed was that the wait staff had some lapses in table maintenance. They were pretty good about replacing silverware and removing dishes in a timely manner, but they often neglected to pick up things like used sugar packages or other trash. Only one or two servers used a table crumber after the main course. Granted, table crumbing is a little thing, but I think if a line wants to bill itself as “luxurious”, that’s a necessary part of service. Especially when there are obvious crumbs that need to be swept up.
Regent had a lot of buffets. I don’t mind buffets, and what they offered was fine. In some cases, it was a real treat. I don’t get to enjoy a lot of fresh shrimp cocktail or prime rib these days, for instance. Regent’s buffets didn’t have a lot of lines, which is a good thing. However, table service, really, is more luxurious to me than going to a buffet. SeaDream and Hebridean both have the occasional buffet, but they are much less pervasive. Hebridean has a cold seafood buffet that is positively decadent and put Regent to shame. But then… the ships are much smaller!
I think, what Regent offers is a very comfortable ship. There aren’t huge crowds, and most everything is taken care of in some way. That’s a good thing, and I think their product is excellent quality. I would not balk at cruising with them again in the future, especially for the right price and itinerary. I probably wouldn’t book Regent for a common itinerary that I could find on a smaller ship. I never see my usual lines going to the Baltic Sea, so that’s why we tried Regent. It worked out great for that purpose. Moreover, I can’t deny that our superior suite on Regent was fabulous. It was the most comfortable room we’ve ever had at sea, and it wasn’t even their top category.
I also think that I probably prefer land based trips to cruises. I usually only choose cruising if I want to cover a large area in a short time, or there’s limited or difficult accessibility by land means (say visits to islands). Sometimes, cruises simply work best for certain itineraries. Our last trip, for instance, was in an expensive area where there’s a lot of water and not too many land based options for travel. Cruising is good for the Baltic and Nordic countries, especially if you don’t have an electric car! But, given a choice, I’d generally rather arrange a road trip and stay in a really lovely hotel or self-catering place.
We didn’t cruise in Norway (where some people are actually discouraging cruising), but I noticed that most of the cars there are electric. Gas is expensive! Actually, just about everything in Norway is expensive, save for things like education and healthcare! I would have loved to have traveled by land, though, so I could see more of the country and explore its hospitality from locals. Ditto to Sweden and Finland, although we have driven in Sweden and Denmark. I am especially interested in doing some land travel in places like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. I’m hoping that when the new Baltic train is completed, we can try it out.
I don’t know if or when we’ll cruise again. I suspect we will. I’m still dying to try a French Barge cruise, and I’ve seen some smaller lines that I think we’ll like, like The Majestic Line in Scotland. I’m also curious about certain unique ships like Sea Cloud, and Europa and Europa II, even though they aren’t all inclusive. I still love SeaDream for its friendly and service oriented staff and amenities, although I don’t think I enjoy the clientele as much. Of the lines we’ve tried so far, Hebridean has my favorite mix of crew and fellow passengers, but doesn’t go to as many places as other lines do.
Anyway… I do like Regent, and although I did say I wasn’t sure if I’d cruise again, the truth is, I probably will do another cruise with them someday. But I definitely haven’t joined the Regent Seven Seas “cult”. 😀 Some people get personally offended when people have anything negative to say about their favorite cruise lines! They all have their drawbacks, though, and it’s not a bad thing to point out a cruise line’s plusses and minuses. After all, these trips are expensive! Most people don’t want to gamble with $10,000, especially if they aren’t wealthy!
No line is perfect, but some lines suit certain people better than others do. I’m just glad there are so many choices to be made, and fascinating places to see. And I’m grateful to have the freedom and be in a position in which we can do these trips and enjoy them to the fullest. It’s a privilege to experience these travel adventures and get to write about them candidly. I could certainly be doing worse things with my time!